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Work in Progress: Experiential Modules Using Texas Instruments Robotic System Learning Kit (TI RSLK) for Teaching Control Systems

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Active and Cooperative Learning in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Jun Ouyang University of California, Davis

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Mr. Ouyang have obtained two bachelor degrees in EE and Computer Science from UC Davis. He is currently a master student in UC Davis. In the present, He is working on a SAR ADC IC. In addition, he is working on revising different laboratory materials to teach prospective electrical engineering students.

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Hooman Rashtian University of California, Davis

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Hooman Rashtian received the Ph.D. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada in 2013. He was a Postdoctoral Scholar at Davis Millimeter-Wave Research Center (DMRC) at University of California, Davis from 2014 to 2016. Since July 2016, he has joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of California, Davis as an Assistant Professor of Teaching. His educational research interests include curriculum innovation for teaching circuits, electronics and control systems, project-based learning, and the use of technology in teaching and learning.

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Control Systems is usually a senior-level class in Electrical Engineering which serves as the opening gate towards important engineering fields such as robotics. Students usually take this class while they are excited to learn about practical control systems. However, the course content is traditionally composed of theoretical concepts such as steady-state error, transient response, stability analysis, root-locus techniques, frequency-response techniques (Nyquist and Bode) and controller design which require advanced mathematical background and skills. While in the beginning of the course, most instructors spend a few lectures on modelling of electrical, mechanical and electromechanical systems, students mainly work with block diagrams and transfer functions of such systems for the remainder of the course. This oftentimes results in students losing the connection between the theories covered in the course and their practical applications to the point that some of them find the course as too abstract. There are a considerable number of works published in engineering education literature which have tried to bridge the gap between theory and practical applications. However, many of the proposed solutions require special equipment which are costly and thus limit students’ exposure to hands-on experiences to laboratory sessions when they have access to the lab equipment and kits. For example, Birdsong has developed a set of experiments based on a robotic arm in [1]. However, the robotic arm is costly and may require students to share its usage. As another example, the work in [2] utilizes LEGO Mindstorm robots which again is a costly solution. In our institution, while Control Systems is listed as a lab course, the lab component of the course consisted of MATLAB and Simulink assignments on designing various controllers such as lead-lag and PID controllers. While MATLAB is a very strong tool in teaching control theory and is widely used by numerous instructors, it does not provide the hands-on experience needed to inspire students to learn control theory. To address this problem and to give students the opportunity of having hands-on experiences outside lecture and lab time, a new set of experiential modules using the Texas Instruments Robotic System Learning Kit (TI RSLK) are developed in this work. The main advantage of this approach comparing to other proposed lab experiments is that RSLK is an affordable kit that students can purchase and modify at will. By working on the developed experiential modules, students solve a real controller design problem using hand analysis followed by MATLAB and Simulink simulations and finally RSLK implementation and measurement to confirm if the design specifications are met. These experiential modules include finding the approximate transfer function of TI RSLK using MATLAB System Identification Toolbox, designing a Proportional (P) controller for RSLK, and finally designing a Proportional-Integral (PI) controller to fulfill a zero steady-state error for ramp inputs. Another feature of the developed labs is that unlike many of other reported works (e.g. [3-8]), the designed controllers in these experiential modules are implemented at the circuit-level using analog op-amp circuits and this in turn provides an opportunity to teach control theory to students who do not have an advanced background in microcontroller programming.

Ouyang, J., & Rashtian, H. (2020, June), Work in Progress: Experiential Modules Using Texas Instruments Robotic System Learning Kit (TI RSLK) for Teaching Control Systems Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35632

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